MURMURATIONS is a collective puppetry performance of oceanic proportions in public space, a puppet poem of city and sea. Responding to the impacts of climate change and plastic pollution on the ocean, giant puppets crafted of plastic trash removed from New York City waterways and beaches transform public space into a seascape of androgynous oysters, stunning sturgeon and captivating cetaceans
Murmurations interrogates the legacy of colonial conquest on New York Harbor through the contemporary lens of plastic pollution, and celebrates the return of whales, Atlantic Sturgeon and American Oyster to the New York harbor estuary after centuries of unregulated extraction and harbor contamination. These contrasting narratives present a discomforting dialogue, simultaneously centering non-human narratives while reckoning with global destruction of the ocean represented by pollution and the plastic industry.
The crafting practice that informs MURMURATIONS is rooted in environmental restoration by means of beach clean up. The project aspires to be sustainable not only in its content but also its practice. Over the course of many hours, I combed beaches and waterways of New York Harbor picking up hundreds of pounds of plastic marine debris. Armed with a grabber claw and a shark mask made of drag detritus, the action activated public space with queer humor and curiosity. Back in the studio, bottles and bags were cleaned and processed into usable art material to shape the bodies of each puppet. The design incorporates plastic strips arranged in the herringbone pattern, using ancient patterns to highlight the thousands of years plastic will remain in the environment.